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Looking back on the court-related battles of 2013

Courts and Law

2013: Ten for the Courts

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If 2013 is remembered as the year when a conservative supermajority rolled into Raleigh and turned North Carolina’s moderate reputation on its head, it must also be appreciated as a time when those affected by the overreach remembered that they still had a place for recourse:  the courts.

Voters, teachers, environmentalists, same-sex marriage proponents, women’s health advocates, death row inmates – just a few of the groups who looked to our state and federal courts for some help righting the ship.

And as battered and overburdened as they are, those courts will nonetheless have the last word about much of the conservative agenda pushed through during the General Assembly’s long session.

– See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2013/12/26/2013-ten-for-the-courts/#sthash.9AfUwsSa.dpuf

It’s year-end wrap-up time and in that spirit, NC Policy Watch Courts and Law Reporter Sharon McCloskey has an excellent summary of ten important matters of North Carolina public policy that are either before the courts or that directly impact them. It’s entitled “Ten for the courts.”

As Sharon notes:

If 2013 is remembered as the year when a conservative super-majority rolled into Raleigh and turned North Carolina’s moderate reputation on its head, it must also be appreciated as a time when those affected by the overreach remembered that they still had a place for recourse:  the courts.

Voters, teachers, environmentalists, same-sex marriage proponents, women’s health advocates, death row inmates – just a few of the groups who looked to our state and federal courts for some help righting the ship.

And as battered and overburdened as they are, those courts will nonetheless have the last word about much of the conservative agenda pushed through during the General Assembly’s long session.

Read the entire article by clicking here.

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Panel considers question of judicial diversity in Charlotte this afternoon/evening

The national advocacy/watchdog group, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is hosting a panel discussion on Judicial Diversity this afternoon/evening from 4pm – 6:30pm in downtown Charlotte at the Gantt Center. This event is free, and refreshments will be served.

The panel will feature five diverse state and federal judges serving in North Carolina who will share their experiences with students, professionals, and advisors, as well as persons who may be curious about careers on the bench.  Panelists will discuss their own career backgrounds and paths to the bench.  After the panel discussion, the judges will lead break-out sessions where they will engage one-on-one with audience members potentially interested in becoming future judges.

Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee, will be giving opening remarks.

Panelists will include: Yvonne Mims Evans, Resident Superior Court Judge, Judicial District 26; Calvin E. Murphy, Special Superior Court Judge For Complex Business Cases; Regan A. Miller, Chief District Court Judge, Mecklenburg County; Rickeye McKoy-Mitchell, District Court Judge, Mecklenburg County; and Theresa Holmes-Simmons, Judge, United States Immigration Court.

Questions? Please contact the Lawyers’ Committee folks at judicialdiversity@lawyerscommittee.org

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McCrory signs “star chamber” judicial discipline bill

 Pat McCrory 4Among the controversial bills that the Governor attempted (probably successfully) to approve under the news media radar this afternoon was the hugely controversial proposal detailed here by NC Policy Watch reporter Sharon McCloskey last month to establish a secret and unaccountable “star chamber” system for disciplining wayward state judges.

The bill was opposed by both the N.C. Bar Association and the N.C. Advocates for Justice — which represents the state’s trial lawyers.

All in all, this afternoon appears to be shaping up as the icing on the cake of what is, without a doubt, one of the most disastrous years in public policy in state history.

Have a great weekend.

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Last-minute bill creates secret review system for judicial complaints

One of today’s most important “must reads” is reporter Sharon McCloskey’s story about a bill rammed through the General Assembly during the session’s waning hours to drastically alter the state’s system of handling complaints against judges.

“It started out as a simple bill allowing parties in family court to appeal rulings before their cases were finally resolved.

By the time it landed on the House floor for a final vote, one of the last bills on the last day of the long session, it had a new name, a new number and a new purpose: to give the justices of the state Supreme Court the sole authority to discipline judges — including themselves –and allow them to decide if, when and who to discipline in secret.

And the back story of the passage of the bill, H652 — including the rare public lobbying by Republican justices in favor of the bill and opposition from the Democratic Chief Justice — illustrates that, despite claims otherwise, money and politics may in fact be dividing the Court.”

Click here to read this important story and, hopefully, share it with folks you know.

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NY Times blog laments destruction of NC’s judicial public financing program

The following was posted this morning on “Taking Note” the editorial page blog at the New York Times:

“The Decline of North Carolina, Continued 

An editorial last week lamented North Carolina’s abandonment of progressive policies in the seven months since Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches in the Tar Heel State for the first time since reconstruction.

The piece cited backward slides in areas such as public education, tax fairness, voting, abortion rights and the mean-spirited slashing of federal unemployment benefits for roughly 70,000 residents.

To that depressing list, I would add one more item: the destruction of North Carolina’s public financing system for judicial elections. Read more